July 6, 2017

The Magic of Being Present: 5 Super Simple Mindfulness Practices.

Just the other night, I had to step outside to lock the gate of my house and as I walked out, I realized that it was softly raining.

Instead of turning around, I continued on my trek. A little rain never killed anyone. On the contrary, it was refreshing.

As I walked back toward the house, the rain called to me. I stopped and felt the water hit me. Instead of sheltering like I so often would, worried my normally frizzy hair would become a curly mess, I shrugged my shoulders, smiled, and allowed the rain to cover me.

Everything faded except the rain and my body.

It was something I craved.

In doing this, I realized how much I was not present in my day-to-day. Sure, I know I’m always on the run—work, errands, home, more work. But as I stood outside feeling that cool rain fall on me, all of that disappeared. I forgot about the Country Music Awards I was watching and the book I was working on. I stood there, arms wide open, as the summer rain fell down on me, wishing more would fall so it would wash away everything that consumed my mind.

I thanked the universe for my skin, so I could feel such an experience. I smiled. No, I laughed, as pellets of water rained down on me—as if I were a child living the most epic of events. I placed my hands over my heart, gratitude spilling from me, because I had this opportunity. Mind blank, this was greater than most meditations I’ve done (and I’ve done a lot).

Being in nature has that effect on us.

After, I was left with a craving to stand out in the rain again, and although rain is usual in the summer where I live, I couldn’t just walk out of my job and stand outside for a few minutes. Living in this rat race, we forget to slow down and take a look at our surroundings. Now more than ever—with technology so accessible and life’s demands higher than ever—we must make it a part of our daily practice to stop and breathe.

We must freeze everything that is going on around us and take the time to refocus our energy and mind into the present moment.

I’ve learned in recent years that I can’t multitask. I used to think I was a multitasking champion until I realized that all multitasking does is tear us apart even more. How can I truly complete a task to the best of my ability when my mind is split into numerous tasks? It’s impossible. It’s a conscious choice to be present, and now is the time to make it happen.

I’ve incorporated different mindfulness practices into my life. Some may not put me in the same mindset the rain did, but they allow me to take a moment and be aware of what I’m living.

Chuck the phone and the laptop, and take some time each day to be content in the exact moment you’re living. It’s challenging, I’ll tell you that much. Our minds can run a mile a second, especially for those who have children—with thoughts of dinner plans, birthdays, dates, and grocery lists.

So here are my tips for mindfulness moments throughout your day that are easy to access and you can actually do, no matter where you are—without looking like that happy maniac dancing in the rain. Let’s be honest though, there is something magical about rain dances.

Five tips for daily mindfulness:

1. Deep breaths. Seriously. You have no idea how cleansing it is to take a few deeps breaths. How many times are we not even aware of our breathing? We do it automatically because it’s our source of life, along with our heartbeat. Stop, close your eyes, and take three breaths. Slow yourself down and center yourself. I promise, this practice will work wonders on your state of mind. And while you’re doing that, be grateful for your healthy lungs that allow the air to flow.

2. Speaking of heartbeats, listen to yours. Stop for a few minutes and listen to the rhythm your heart creates. Feel it in your chest, and in the base of your throat. Focusing on this alone will ease your mind for a few minutes and allow you to be present in the moment you’re living.

3. Give thanks. I emphasize this in everything I share. Being grateful for what I have in my life has put so many things into perspective. Whether it’s in the morning when you wake up, before going to bed, or at a point during the day where you’re about to lose our wits, stop and make a list (mental or written) of the things in your life you’re grateful for.

Need some help? You’re grateful for: Your eyes because you can witness the beautiful colors. Your skin that allows you to feel the rain. The very device from which you’re reading this. We overlook the simple things sometimes when creating a list of gratitude. Heck, even the hardships that shine a different light on our path are something to give thanks for. Without challenges, our strength cannot build.

4. Write. Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, you can write. Writing stimulates our brains and emotions in a different way. A few words, a list, a few paragraphs—anything you get down on paper opens you up to your inner truth while keeping you focused solely on that experience. As I sit here and write this, I’m in a zone that blocks worry and stress. I’m mindful of what I’m saying, and mindful of feelings I sometimes don’t take the time to acknowledge. The more you write, the more will surface. Besides, it is an extremely healing tool.

5. Have a conversation with someone whose company you enjoy. Leave the phones on silent and talk to someone you enjoy being with and respect. Having meaningful conversations, and catching up with friends, is soulful and allows us to be mindful. How many times do we walk into a place and see people with their heads dug deep in their phones? (I’m guilty of this, too.) Throw the phone to the side and socialize like it’s 1995. Talk about the weather, your vacation plans, how work is going, and anything and everything that comes to mind. Share your joys and recent achievements. Listen to what your loved one is saying. When we constantly look down at our devices, it’s impossible to be fully present in the conversation.

Bonus tip:

6. If you have a garden, go out and water it. Spend some times watching the water spray the soil and leaves. It’s a source we all need to survive, so spend time giving some TLC to the other living things around you. Create rainbows with the spray of water and have fun.

Author: Fabiola Francisco 
Image: Katie Zilcosky/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Lieselle Davidson

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Fabiola Francisco